You want BAM? How about Clark Gregg talking about resurrecting Agent Coulson for TV and the movies? POW? How about Jaimie Alexander Sif-ting through the secrets of Thor: The Dark World? And ZAP? Mark Hamill remembers the days when George Lucas envisioned as many as 12 Star Wars films!
Clark Gregg: Agent Coulson’s Return to TV – and Marvel Movies?
We’re movie-centric over here at BAM! POW! ZAP! but since a) one of the safest bets for pickup any second now by ABC is the Joss Whedon-produced Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which spins directly out of The Avengers; and b) I recently chatted with the Clark "Agent Coulson" Gregg, star of both projects, let’s look at how the small screen fits into the big picture for a moment.
Gregg admits he’s extremely curious to see if the logic behind Coulson’s resurrection after such a dramatic death scene in The Avengers would fly with the fans – because Whedon had to lay it all out to make it fly with the actor. “I needed to know because I really liked how seriously they took that part of The Avengers plotline. I didn't want to do anything to undermine it and neither did he, so he kind of pitched me the way he wanted to do it, and it was – to a comic lover from way back – fantastic and kind of obeyed the mythological laws. I was hooked.”
The series will focus squarely on the civilian side of Marvel’s shared universe, Gregg explains. "What attracted me to it is the same thing that attracted me to playing Agent Coulson which is in the world of these movies not everybody's a superhero and a lot of people are quite vulnerable, quite normal people committed to the same ideas of kind of fighting evil wherever it appears. I like the idea that they've got a show that's really focused on the foot soldiers who are out there on a daily basis, post-Avengers, trying to sort out where the new heroes and where the new threats are coming from."
Gregg also revealed one of his favorite bits of fan speculation on the method behind Coulson’s return. "There was a lot of speculation that he was a kind of alien shapeshifter from the comics called the Skrulls – I liked that one," he says, grinning. And what about the notion that Coulson’s brainwaves would bring the android Avenger known as The Vision to life? "The Vision's plausible. I like the Vision. I wouldn't be upset if he came back as the Vision."
Does Gregg think that, however he’s revived, Coulson may rejoin his Avenging cohorts on the big-screen as well? "That would be nice," he says. "I've seen the way Marvel tends to spread you kind of pretty thin."
Jaimie Alexander: Hammering Out a Romantic Triangle with Thor
If anyone’s got the looks and the physique to convincingly play a Norse goddess, it’s Jaimie Alexander, who offered some tantalizing tidbits about her return as Lady Sif in Thor: The Dark World.
"I think we can all tell from the trailer that there’s definitely a love triangle," she explains of the looming romantic complications between Sif, the Thunder God (Hemsworth) and Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). "We get to explore the Thor/Sif relationship, and that means in every aspect. She’s grown up with him. He’s almost like a brother, but at the same time she respects him so much now that there’s deeper love there. And we also get to see a much more vulnerable side of Sif, which is really nice."
Alexander says she found it fun to push the Thor/Sif bond in a more romantic direction, even though she and Hemsworth share a more sibling-like bond off screen. "There’s always a bit of awkwardness in scenes with him because we’re very brother/sister – like, I’ll just punch him in the arm really hard. But we had a good time, and again, he’s such a great guy." And her rival for Thor’s affections? "There are scenes with Natalie and I, even when other characters aren’t around, and she’s a blast to work with."
Because much of the story’s action takes place in the realm of the gods, she says, "We do get to see a lot more of the Asgardian lifestyle, and the daily lives of the warriors and that sort of thing…. It’s really as gorgeous as it was in the first movie. You get to see what it’s like when they celebrate after a victory and how much they all love each other so much, and how they’ve known each other their entire lives – all the Warriors Three, Thor, the king, the queen, everybody. So it’s really fun to see how they are with each other, and how actually, how similar it is to Earth: the way they treat each other, where they go to celebrate, what they do."
Much as Iron Man 3 takes place solidly in a post-Avengers world, so too will the second Thor film reflect an evolving Marvel Cinematic Universe. "Marvel’s really great at tying the all the movies in together," says Alexander, noting that the sequel "definitely brings up what happens in The Avengers. We can’t just be up in Asgard and pretend like nothing happened. It wouldn’t make any sense."
In between Thors, Alexander played deputy to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s small-town sheriff in the underappreciated The Last Stand, on Blu-ray May 21, and she admits there were butterflies in her stomach when she first started working alongside the legendary actor/former California governor.
"He’s a Hollywood action legend and icon, he’s a politician, and he’s just an idol to so many people," she explains. "You think, 'Okay, he’s either going to have a huge ego and be rude' – which has happened before with other people – or 'Maybe he’s going to be down-to-earth. 'I had no idea what to expect – I was actually really nervous. I went up and introduced myself, and he gave me a pat on the shoulder and, 'Are you ready to have some fun?' And I was like, 'Okay, this guy’s great!'"
Mark Hamill: Returning as the Jedi
You know you picked the right May the Fourth, 30th anniversary screening of Return of the Jedi to go to when in the midst of a Mark Hamill sound-alike contest the legendary actor who gave life to Luke Skywalker shows up as an entrant himself. But that’s what happened at Entertainment Weekly’s first annual Cape Town Film Festival, and during a subsequent Q&A session Hamill dropped some behind-the-scenes tidbits about his pending return of the Star Wars saga.
Hamill told the attendees at Hollywood’s Egyptian Theater he thought that the saga ended with Jedi, but future Star Wars films were brewing in creator George Lucas’ brain. "He talked about how originally it was four trilogies in twelve [chapters], which was really puzzling to me. And he said, "We cobbled it down to three trilogies in nine [films]. And said, 'Well, why are we starting from the middle?' Because even then I realized that if things were to go forward, the technology would improve and by the time they got around to going back in time, the special effects would give it away that they were much more technologically advanced than what we were doing. And he said, 'Well, this trilogy is the most commercial.'"
Hamill learned of the plan to reignite the franchise from Lucas himself, shortly before the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney and the announcement that new Star Wars films would be underway. "George brought us to lunch. I was trying to figure out, 'What is he going to talk about?' Me and my wife and Carrie Fisher were thinking, 'Well, wait a second – I think he's going to release these in 3-D. Maybe he’s going to ask us to help promote them.' We had no idea, but my wife said something about it: 'What if he says "We’re going to do more movies?' I said, 'Yeah, right!'"
"He told us that Kathleen Kennedy was going to run Lucasfilm, and that they wanted to do [Episodes] 7, 8, and 9," Hamill continued. "I went, 'Really?' And then I started thinking, well, they did not do too badly by the Marvel franchise. They did real well with the Muppets. The more you think about it, the more it makes sense."
"I’ve only had one creative meeting on the new films, but I do remember saying, 'We've got to find a proper balance between CGI and old-school model,'" said the star, who also wants fandom to weigh in on their hopes for the future installments. "That's what the challenge is: to try and meet the expectations of what you guys want."
"That's just me – I don’t know if their top priority is what I want," he chuckled. But if he’s kept those Jedi Mind Trick skills sharp, perhaps he’ll help bring balance to the FX force.